By Insula Qui
The libertarian movement is plagued by socialism, not in the economic or political realm, but solely when it comes to social relations. Libertarians refuse to apply market logic to relations that are outside the conventionally accepted sphere of buying and selling. Economic theory is useful even in areas that do not use money and are untouched by material transactions of property titles, however, this application of economic theory has been ignored completely. And this is for a good reason, an economist is not supposed to be an arbiter of social interactions, thus the task of creating an economic view of society falls upon the social thinker.
The only real way to categorize society is to look at the relations within and seek to define the precise forms and values that they take. Thus, to create a theory based on those relations we need to create a proper theory of those relations. To do so we can take inspiration from one of the useful parts of propertarianism in property-en-toto. Property-en-toto, in simpler terms, states that all things that have been socially construed as property are property since they are worth defending. This is fairly uninteresting on it’s own but leads us to a very thought-provoking conclusion.
Since humans privatize things that are immaterial as can be demonstrated by defending immaterial goods, we can adequately say that things such as social interactions and norms can also be property. However, is it also possible to demonstrate this to the same effect without relying on propertarian logic? To do this we can simply state that social interactions have inherent value and this means that social interactions are embarked upon only because they have demonstrable value to those who interact.
But this is not sufficient to demonstrate how we can make property rights apply to the social sphere. After all, property can only be applied to scarce goods. And to demonstrate that social interactions are scarce, we need to somehow demonstrate that it is possible to impose costs on social interactions and effectively do away with the left-libertarian notion that private affairs are only the matter of those involved within those affairs. For example, we can say that if social norms perpetuate a pornographic view on sexuality, all sexuality will be reduced to the pornographic as the sexual relation is defined by that social norm. This imposes a cost on all who accrue personal damage by engaging in pornographic depictions of sex, which is every individual who is not a reprobate.
And this applies to everything else, when a person is obnoxious, undesirable, subversive, maladjusted, degenerate, or any other form of nuisance, he is imposing a cost on everyone else within society. That person is using his social interactions to erase the beneficial and profitable forms of interaction. This is immaterial and thus most fundamentally materialist capitalist thinkers do not concern themselves with the particular problem. The closest we have gotten in recent history is the notion of physical removal and exclusion from the social order, this is the view advanced by Hans Hoppe.
But this is not enough, physical removal is only the first step to creating an order of privatized social interactions. It is true that, existentially, everyone who is inherently contradictory to the social order needs to be removed from that order. However, this does not mean that exclusion is sufficient in itself and that we only need to rely on trust and hope in that everyone is decent. We can apply the economic logic of material property to social property.
To prevent the imposition of costs onto material property, we create an order where the owner of material property can exclude those who damage it and require reparations for the damage caused. To ensure that material property is profitable, we create language that allows for contract and an ethic that prioritizes the contract above all. This is because contractualism can ensure the reciprocal nature of all relations within society.
But this is not completely applicable to social relations. Social relations are not individual couplings of people interacting, if that was a sufficient description of society, the solution would be to teach people proper boundaries and promote assertiveness. And although the former is a baseline for personal social relations, we must fundamentally characterize society as two different forms of interaction.
The first form of interaction is the nexus of society, the decentralized and interdependent form of interacting which connects all people to all other people. People are affected by costs imposed onto the people who they interact with and as such the social nexus necessarily socializes costs to a large degree. These are passing conditions and not fundamental to the entirety of society, but the propertyless form of society is communism. This is the same way with material goods, before there are norms to property, all costs imposed to property are socialized as people are not restricted from using the goods owned by others.
We can use worn out feminist logic to formulate a general answer to this question by simply stating that social parasitism would be prevented by an unwillingness to perform emotional labour. However, this is an insufficient answer to questions where men are involved as men generally have greatly reduced costs to emotional labour to the extent that it is not even worth considering as a generality. Rather, we need to realize that if all people stopped performing emotional labour, the entire social order would not function as all people would need to cut off all others. (An important thing to note is that this is an applicable strategy for women who can primarily only be concerned with endogenous efforts while men focus on exogenous efforts.)
This sort of atomistic individualism is not sustainable and can never produce a healthy society, rather, in order to privatize social interactions it’s important to allow those affected to demand reparation. This means that if a person causes a deterioration in the social nexus, all those who previously utilized that nexus have a legitimate claim to reparation. In other words, nuisances need to be punished within the social realm, the means by which to do so will be elaborated on later.
The other and more pertinent issue is the one of those social relations that determine the creation of civilization and the attitudes of civilization. These are the interactions that produce norms, define the form of social relations, and create the ethos of art. This is the area most vulnerable to attack as the attack will affect the entirety of the society which produces civilization. This is compounded by the creation of civilization being concentrated upon only the few who have a natural proclivity towards defining that civilization.
If we thought about this economically, it would be akin to the most vital producers of economic goods favouring socialism. Libertarians understand the innate danger thereof and aim to prevent the socialization of leading industries even though the leading capitalists may have proclivities towards such a system. We would never accept corporate socialism in economics and yet we often ignore the parallel in society where the leaders of communities and public figures aim to destroy civilizational values.
To prevent both of these occurrences, we need to formulate a theory that would allow the non-imposition of costs within society to be enforced. This is fairly easy, whenever civilization is destroyed, everyone within that civilization has a legitimate claim on the destroyer of that civilization. Furthermore, whenever society is disturbed by nuisances, those affected have a legitimate claim on that nuisance.
Enforcing these claims is harder than creating those claims, using violence against non-violent behaviour cannot be justified if we accept non-aggression. We now have to justify violent responses to non-violent behaviour whenever immaterial property is threatened. And this is fairly simple once we have accepted the principles of anarcho-monarchism, we need to create a system of voluntary governance that exercises managerial capacity over property. This means that this voluntary government can punish people as it chooses insofar as those people are willingly on the property of that government.
When people choose to enter the property of those governed while being fully aware of the status thereof, they accept that if they impose social costs, their property will be liable for resale. If they go against the social order, they preemptively agree to give up settled amounts of property even including their own lives. This can justify, for example, enstating a death penalty for rapists and pedophiles although their crimes do not inherently warrant those punishments when we look at material costs.
But property cannot be for resale to a centralized government, rather, the property must be given to those damaged. This is the basic libertarian principle of reparation which is integral to our view of persecuting crimes. It also fundamentally leaves the choice of what to do with nuisances and subversives to those people who are damaged by them. But the method by which we can properly ensure the judgement of various nuisances without having it be arbitrary still has to be defined, not taking a shower before going outside does not warrant a death penalty.
And here we can now default back to the libertarian principle of double proportional response as a general rule. It's important to note that this proportionality must be determined by those who the offence was against and not by the offender. This makes it important to have ultimate improportionality while using proportional response as a guideline. When people impose a cost, they both give up a claim on property equivalent to that cost and need to reparate the cost. When people impose costs by accident, they only need to reparate the cost they caused. By using this principle, we are able to solve all the problems of potentially arbitrary judgements.
For example, if a homosexual lived a quiet life in a conservative society, he would still impose costs insofar as he does not conform to the socially acceptable norm. This simply means that the same homosexual needs to live an otherwise virtuous life to compensate for his non-conformity to not impose more costs than he can reparate. This provides a proper right-libertarian solution to any alternative and socially threatening lifestyle. However, if that homosexual would intentionally spread propaganda to children, he would be liable for more damage as he has intentionally caused social degradation.
We can also take the example of adultery, which should be a more serious crime than homosexuality. This is not because adultery is necessarily a lesser cost (this depends on the size of a community and the attitudes of that community), but it imposes a far more concentrated cost. In effect, it is extremely hard to buy the right to be an adulterer by being virtuous as the spouse of the adulterer is affected most by the adultery. This is to an extent where even a venerable and extremely dignified person cannot pay the cost of adultery. The only way adultery is excused is if both members of the married couple find low value in that coupling. But this means that adulterers can be rightly persecuted and charged without an integral violation of libertarian attitudes insofar as this is done proportionately to the cost.
People who are undesirable and cannot pay the cost of that undesirability to those damaged must be excluded from the social order. If they cannot proportionately give back more than they take, they are parasites and must be done away with in the most fitting way after damages have been properly reparated. And if they are unable to pay reparations in the social realm, it is just to expect them to give up some part of material property through the principles of libertarian statecraft. To do otherwise would simply be a social subsidy and comparable to material subsidy.
But there is still the issue of selecting arbiters for these judgements and deciding which norms are enforceable, this is simply a matter of selecting an aristocracy of the most capable. Norms need to be privatized and the way to do so is as with any other thing that needs to be privatized. We need to have an executive in the form of a monarch or CEO and an aristocracy in the form of a nobility or a board of directors. This combination can create a capacity to ensure that all norms are respected insofar as they are vital to the society.